Creating Armor with Cloth Thickness in Marvelous Designer

Jun 24, 2022 at 10:30 am by Warlord720

Marvelous Designer has been around long enough to have matured into a valuable clothing tool many versions ago and gets even better with each version. While it looks to be an intimidating piece of software for newbies in reality it is not. The most difficult aspect for most new users is wrapping their head around patterns and sewing for the first time. Once this hurdle has been cleared the creative juices start to kick in wanting to do more than just basic pants, shirts, or coats.

This is where cloth thickness comes in as a way to make simple clothing look more complex or even make armor such as the sci-fi version we’ll cover later in this article. The process is simple:

  • Create a shirt, pants, and vest in a thin cloth
  • Divide up the clothing into multiple colors with internal lines then use cut and sew to separate the cloth pieces created by the lines.
  • Use multiple fabrics of differing thicknesses to bring more detail to the simple garments. A shirt created as one piece and then divided up into different pieces with varying thicknesses will provide a lot more customization.


Uniform Example

In this example, the shirt is a basic long sleeve with a tall neck created as one piece and then cut up into the parts you see below.

Multi-Cloth Clothing
Clothing is created as one piece and then uses internal lines with Cut and Sew to cut out other pieces.


As mentioned earlier I created internal lines and, in most cases, could copy and paste (reversed) to keep the continuity of the patterns without a lot of free-hand drawing. In fact, only the first internal lines were drawn such as dividing the sleeves on the left sleeve and then reverse pasting to the other side. Like most things, this gets easier the more you use it.

If the main cloth is set to a thickness of .50 to 5, I will usually double that, at minimum, to make the padded parts of the garment stand out more. Sometimes I will even quadruple the thickness, but it eventually starts to distort too much on the edges. My main point here is to have a lot of difference in the cloth thicknesses, to the point they obviously stand out from each other. Where you can tell one is substantially thicker than the other to bring more contrast to the eye of the viewer, so it pops, and has that immediate impact of an interesting design.

Varying cloth thickness catches the eye, particularly in the right lighting and angle. A simple shirt and pants can be quickly turned into a more complex article of clothing using this slice and dice method. The orange around the waist is where I strengthened the top and belt loops to hold shape as they are small pieces of cloth that distort easily.

Results of Cloth Thickness

Sci-Fi Armor

New users are sometimes oblivious to the fact that they can also create hard surface armor with Marvelous Designer by using the right textures combined with proper thickness for multi-piece armor.  The simple example below illustrates this approach by using thickness in Marvelous Designer and texturing from Substance 3D Painter.

Armor in MDHard surface armor was initially created as cloth in Marvelous Designer.

The armor “vest” was created as a single item just like the previous examples and then sliced up with internal lines and cut and sew to create the different pieces. Using software like Substance 3D Painter is critical to this workflow as it makes the cloth from Marvelous Designer look like hard-surfaced armor. As you can see the texture adds detail and metallic-looking surfaces. Please note in the example below the arm and leg armor were created in ZBrush and both work together seamlessly.

Hard Surfaced Armor

I find using Marvelous Designer with its slice and dice tools to be a faster way to produce armor that looks like it took hours to make while only taking a fraction of that time. If you are a fast texture painter or going with simple textures like above then you’ll be able to go from concept to finished product in one day easily, if not in one afternoon. What used to take a few days can now be done in a few hours depending on your workflow.

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website


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